Thursday, March 24, 2011

Part 2: How Stella Got Her Irish On...

So, back to our regularly scheduled programs.  As a add on to Part 1 - I have been informed that I made a small error - there are, in fact, two more groups of women.  Women who prefer Rocco (David Della Rocco) and those who prefer the character played by Billy Connelly (to be more specific would make a spoiler).  I maintain that, despite ultimately loving say, Rocco or Billy, when asked, most women who've seen and loved the movie will be able to choose between the two brothers.  This does not diminish their love for Rocco or Billy - it's just an illustration of how, upon meeting another woman who loves this flick, I've been able to ask "Connor or Murph?"...and get that quick response.  R or B women will generally follow with a variation on "But I have to say, the one I really love is..."  But it will always start with a brother preference. 

In the two days between deciding to go and the actual event, Elle and I were on a high tilt warble of excitement. 

We made all of the common sense preparations - outfits that were flattering but not slutty, packing the mini DVD player so Elle could watch All Saints Day on the way down, that kind of thing.  I was trying to get as much done as I could, since Elle was working late to prevent work from piling up too much while she was gone.  To fuel this mission, my house was in a constant marathon of the two movies.

Stella came for a visit the day before the party.  To understand what comes next, we need a clear picture of Stella.  She is, as I've described before, a Social Butterfly.  She embodies the grace and charisma that makes hosting a party with innumerable guests look like child's play.  She's one of the few people I know who can be in a room full of strangers - and not only be at home, but through her sparkling energy and tactful instincts, can make those strangers feel like they've known not only her, but each other, for years.

Stella is also a voracious athlete and sports fan.  She watches TV, but really for live action, real time things.  Sitting down to just enjoy a movie (let alone over and over) - SO not her thing (obviously, she's a Woman #1 - never seen The Boondock Saints)

Essentially, we're each other's photo negative - though that doesn't stop us from loving each other to bits.

Often, I find myself saying to her (say, during March Madness, or a football game of sorts) "well, I can't pretend that I "get" why you're excited, but I'm very, very happy for you." (or sad, depending)  This has become a joke between us (though I do mean it, every time).

So.  She and I are visiting and she watched as I bustled around the kitchen.  Finally, it was her turn to say:

"Megan, I just want you to know that, while I don't understand why you're excited, I'm very happy for you that you have this opportunity."  We both laughed.  Then it hit me - there was a way to help her understand...just maybe...

There is a deleted scene from the first movie that is fantastically hilarious and aesthetically magnificent.  Even the director himself has admitted that he regrets cutting it from the final product.  It involves the boys getting a phone call from their mother in Ireland.  For reasons logical to the script, but too long to repeat, they are naked through this scene (hence the aesthetics - sigh).  Since the scene takes place just after the opening credits, one only has to watch up to the part where the main title is shown.  As much of a movie fan as she is not - Stella agreed that she could sit through that much.

SCENE:  The boys are at the meat packing plant (their livelihood, pre-killing spree).  The first one we see is Connor.

Stella says, "Oh, he's pretty cute!"  So, I'm thinking that, though she'll never watch the entire movie, she would be a #3 (those who love Connor). 

As the plot thickens, Murphy shoots a look over his shoulder (pissed that Connor's getting picked on), and she grabs my arm and asks "Who the hell is THAT?!?!?"

Ahhh.  She's a big, bad #4. 

"That," says I, "is Murph."

STELLA:  That's Norman Reedus?  
ME:  Yup.
STELLA:  The guy you've been talking about?
ME:  Yup.  Keep watching.

I switched to the deleted scene.  We watched it in reverent silence.  Sigh.

It's over; I turned off the disk.

STELLA:  You're going to get to meet him?

Kinda makes me feel like Riverdancin'.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Neighbor on (the Pain In) the Backside

I apologize for the length of this one.  As it's purpose was to be informative as well as entertaining, I don't have the luxury of splitting it into smaller pieces.

I really did want to do my 3 part St Paddy's Day special all at once...but circumstances have distracted me.

Circumstances like sitting down after bringing Crikey home from school, planning out the making of the Irish Dinner (none of that corned beef and cabbage - we are authentic here)...relaxing for a bit...

"MOM.  There's a man outside our fence taking pictures of our house!"

I get out there in time to see the fellow walking away.  I call out:

"HEY.  CAN I HELP YOU?"  I admit, my tone of voice was not a welcoming one, true.  However, I think I can be granted a little indulgence here.

This pillar of society just walks away, into the trees behind our house.  Hmmm.

Now, my land line had been down for a few days, and I hardly get any cell reception at my house, so calling the police was a bit of a challenge.  I texted Marshall and Elle, asking them to do so, and tried on my own.  I finally got through; an officer came over.

He questioned Crikey, who, while I am very proud of how he came right in to tell me about the Creepy Old Guy, he did NOT give me all of the information.  So, it is while he's giving his statement to the policeman that I learn:

CRIKEY:  And then he asked me the dogs' names.

Wait a fucking minute.  WHAT?  I do that slow turn to the boy, and ask:

"He spoke to you???"

For the record, I did not lose my calm.  I did not interrupt his narrative further.  However, what has started as a mild case of berserker rage was slowly escalating to something a little more potent.

Let's speed up this part: 

There was a man.  He had a camera.  He took pictures of our dogs, our house.  He talked to my child (thinking he was unsupervised).  He left when I came out.  Officer found footprints adjacent to our fence, and a trail leading back to the condos 150 yards from our property. 

At first, I thought it was our neighbor.  Reasoning?  He's a nutjob with a history of throwing dog feces at children walking their dogs, aiming for children when he's driving through the neighborhood, taunting dogs (and then calling animal control to complain about barking).  He was IDed by our next door neighbors' babysitter as doing the photograph-then-turn-tail-when-confronted act in their yard (though, for all of his faults, it's nice that's he's been exonerated from this one - read on).  He's also been suspected of killing a few of the neighborhood cats.  Personally, until this incident, my encounters with him have been limited.  He left a passive aggressive note on my car about Marshall's parking habits; he's been quite civil to me when I've approached him about our dogs' barking (though he gets quite apoplectic when complaining about our dogs to the neighbors).  It seemed the logical place to start.

Now, if it was CNG (Crazy Neighbor Guy), I have to admit, I was not worried about Crikey's safety.  He's an ass (with no tolerance for children) but he only lashes out at kids when they directly inconvenience him.  My main concern was the possibility that he'd throw poisoned food over the fence, neutralizing the dogs that way.

However, never let it be said that I'm unfair.  If it was CNG, I want him nailed to the wall.  But if it wasn't...

My mother texted me the next morning, suggesting that I shouldn't let the kids go outside.  While I understood her point - the sheer notion of hiding my children and my dogs inside Pissed. Me. Off.  This is their home.  Marshall's home.  My home.  Our yard.  Our property.  I absolutely refuse to be frightened while on it.

I think it's quite telling that, when I announced this situation as my Facebook status, the response from my friends was immediate, outraged and concerned (I really do have the best people EVER in my life) There was also a kind of anticipation of how I would deal with the situation - I have to say I feel very flattered by the absolute confidence everyone had in my ability to take care of the way or another.  To sum it up:

He picked the wrong Bitch to piss off.

As usual, I sent Crikey outback with the dogs when he got home from school.  I have a collapsible chair that I keep in my car trunk for the sporting events I attend.  I set that up on he back deck.  Along with my lapdesk, netbook, glass of seltzer.  One last thing...

The expression on Crikey's face was one to remember when I brought out Marshall's 12 gauge rifle.  With big eyes, a half smile and a nervous laugh, Crikey asked:

"Uh, mom, don't you think you takin' this a bit too far?"  (nervous chuckle)


(a little more heh, heh, hehs... and an expression of "are you for freaking real with me?"

There is a fine line between having your children live in terror of their world and instilling in them healthy caution.  As intelligent as Crikey is (inconveniently so with matters such as these), a little information would quickly lead to understanding the whole, terrifying picture.  So we have, perhaps, erred on the side of too much caution.  Now that the situation has come to somewhat of a head...

"Crikey, do we know for a fact that he's not a kidnapper?"  I hated pointing it out.

He blinked.  He looked away.  I saw the flicker of "oh shit, I didn't think of that."  He looked back at me. 

My son was on the teetering edge of  Fear.  I was on that same edge with Hate.  And then:

He looked at the shotgun.  His eyes widened with the understanding that Mom had a gun, she knew how to use it, and she'd kill the shit out of anyone before she let that person take/hurt/kill him or his brother.

He looked back at me, and the biggest grin spread across his face.  Fear was gone.  Caution was there.

And I had become Han Solo.

Before it seems to the world that I had lost my mind, Ted Nugent style - allow me to point out a couple things. 

1 - I had (and have) no intention of harming another human being unless that individual poses and clear and present threat to the safety of my children, Marshall or myself (or other people - you get the point).

2 - The reason I had the 12 gauge out is because it was not only big enough to see from behind our property - it was not loaded.  Granted, the .45 in my lap was - but I was working under the concept of the big visible gun working as a prophylactic measure.

3 - Nothing would please me more than to know that it is unnecessary for me to prepare myself for the trauma it would cause me (to say nothing of my kids) if I did have to take the life of another human being.  It's easy to act all badass "oh, I'm gonna do (this or that - insert violent act of choice)" - but actually Killing A Person - that is huge.  More enormous than the crime statistics would have us believe, far more painful (to the person pulling the trigger) than anyone (who hasn't had to do that) can imagine.  For all of my badassery, for all of my willingness to do whatever it takes to protect my children, for all of the humor I used to carry myself through this experience, I dreaded the idea of actually having to do it.

That's right, I said humor.  This post hasn't been funny so an apology for that, I shall share the other options that came up through the brainstorming with Marshall and my awesome friends.

The first thing I did was change my profile picture to a cartoon drawing from Brilliant Blogger Extraordinaire Allie Brosh (of Hyperbole and a Half - if you haven't read it, you must start.  She is possibly one of the most hilariously brilliant human beings who ever lived). (yeah, I used "brilliant" twice - she deserves both):

Also, the lines from 99 Biker Friends, by Bowling for Soup, also seem helpful:

"Let's get the A-Team, 50 Cent with his bling-bling and a couple of prison guards...and I have 99 Biker Friends, who wanna kick your ass!"

Speaking of the A-Team, the brainstorming went with the theme of  "WWMD" - What Would Murdock Do?

Install a nanny cam on the culprit's property with a Internet live feed so we can all tune in and watch HIM.  "" maybe?

Install motion detectors that play Hank Williams Jr.'s "A Country Boy Can Survive" as an alarm (specifically the line that goes "I got a shotgun rifle and a four wheel drive and a country boy can survive")

Electrify the fence

Barbed wire

Electric barbed wire

(and since he was CLEARLY banking on our being New England Liberals (which is a realistic assumption for our area) and therefore unarmed: 

Hanging a sign on the outside of the fence (where his footprints were found) that reads:


It turns out that CNG wasn't home at all that day. 

In seemingly unrelated news:  over the past year or so, there's been a car slowly driving up and down our street.  Not every day - or even every week.  Just often enough that even I noticed it. I figured it was city related (many folks around here use personal vehicles even when doing city work).

Yesterday, we took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters.  On the drive back, Marshall got a call from the police, letting us know that they'd been called about a car driving slowly on our road. 

Turns out our next door neighbor, Ava, had seen a man walking around outside her yard and toward mine.  She called to him, he slunk behind a tree, and then, as her husband went to follow him, he left...back to the condos.  They called the police.

Shortly after that, the car was back, cruising our street.  Ava  walked into the road and stopped him.   Same jacket, same hat as the man she had just seen minutes before.

She asked him if he was lost, if he needed help - that kind of thing.  His response was civil, though not pleasant.  However, when Ava pointed out that she recognized him, he smirked and said that he didn't know what she was talking about, and that she couldn't prove anything anyway.

AVA:  (I'm paraphrasing) Actually, I recognize you.  There are at least two children who will recognize you.  Also, my babysitter not only can identify you, but would be happy to testify against you.

That did make him pause...for a bit.  Then he identified himself as the President of the Condo Association and started going on about the evil of my dogs (why he needs pictures of their yard because of my dogs is still unclear to me).  Since she knew it was only a matter of minutes before the police showed up, she kept him talking.  When he got to the part where he was going to go to the police and complain to the mayor, the patrol car pulled up.  Very nice timing, I have to say.

Over the course of that conversation, he learned two things:

1 - He had underestimated the opposition:  this neighborhood is full of law enforcement, fire department, to say nothing of the ex-Marines and Airborne Rangers.

2 - He would be arrested if he came on our property again

That is where the situation stands as of this writing.  Ava's put up her no trespassing sign.  I'm going to make one or two.  I'm going to clean up the language a bit, since there are kids back there, but my signs are going to be pretty creative.

And I want him to know about the shotgun.

The link for Hyperbole and a Half is:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Norman Reedus and the Holy Grail, Part 1

I really wanted this to be a St. Patrick's Day post, since the events described took place one year ago today (and for other, soon to be obvious, reasons).  However, to do the story justice, I had to choose either to inundate you all with the LONGEST POST YET...or divide it up.  Alas, division it is.  Hey, this just means that we have EXTRA March 17ths, right?

There are four types of women in the world:

1 - women who've not seen the Boondock Saints movies
2 - women who didn't love the Boondock Saints movies
3 - women who love Connor (played by Sean Patrick Flanery)
4 - women who love Murphy (played by Norman Reedus)

I used to belong to that first group. I completely lack anything that approaches understanding for the second group (admittedly, it's quite small).  As for #s 3 and 4?

As usual, when faced with the opportunity to do/watch something new, I balked.  Also as usual, I was given several gentle nudge opportunities to watch it. While I don't dislike action movies, this one looked like some overly violent what-the-hell-ever movie. It didn't help that people kept comparing it to Pulp Fiction (another movie that, once I finally saw it, merely confirmed my suspicion that the one scene worth watching was VERY early). No thank you.

Finally, Ms. J got fed up. She sent me the DVD, with a note on it:

"Don't fucking call me again until you've watched it. Love, Ms. J"

Fine. I'll put it on. Marshall wanted to watch it anyway. But I won't like it. Picked up my cross stitching.

And then - two exceptionally attractive men (with rakish Irish brogues) go on the most engagingly awesome vigilante killing spree ever. They're not even trying to be sexy - the movie really is a guy's guy blow'em up flick...with, um, benefits.

For the record, I'm a big, loyal #4.  I am almost silly over Norman Reedus, aka Murphy MacManus.

One of the first things a newcomer to my family will notice - we are a movie watching people.  Some people have comfort foods, some turn to the drink - and while I thoroughly enjoy both of those activities - the most consistent reassurance offered to me from the shallow end of the Pool of Life is the Favorite Movie.

I don't think that it's unique to me to be caught up in a wonderful film - to allow myself to forget who and where I am in exchange for a couple hours of escape.  Especially during that first viewing, I allow myself complete absorption into the experience.

When watching the Boondock Saints - something very rare happened.  There came a scene that hit home SO powerfully, I was jolted from my experience.  Feet that were propped up dropped to the floor.  Jaw fell open.  Arms started flailing in a bizarre mix of waving and pointing as I said:


(followed closely by a slight disquiet that, of all of the buddy flicks that remind me of my best was one about vigilante killers...surely just a coincidence...)

The scene?  Connor and Murph are crawling through a ventilation system, on their way to "drop in" on the crime lords they've come to kill.  For most people, this would be a time for nerves, or for an extra effort to cooperate with each other.  For them, well, they're brothers and they're irritated with each other.  So when Connor finally gets annoyed enough with Murph, he punctuates his sentence with a quick pop on Murph's head with a flashlight.  Murph expresses his displeasure by punching his brother, and they start wrestling in the air shaft.

We would do this.  We have the (possibly justified) confidence in ourselves to act with complete disregard for the danger inherent in any situation if we have to bang something out between us first. 

Which means - not only is this movie funny.  Not only are they sexy.  But's a flick about Ms. J and myself.

Marshall joked that it must suck that I don't get to "be" (identify with) the character I love...for while I dearly love Murphy, I most certainly am Connor.

Undaunted, I quickly retorted:

"Oh, no.  It just means that these are qualities I love so much, gender doesn't matter."

Onward go the next 7 years.  I've bought this movie many times (since I keep giving it away).  I've converted many people to the Flock, as it's called (Trekkies, Mysties, Brown Coats...the Flock).  We lived in a constant (if low intensity) state of hope for a sequel.

Then.  In 2009, All Saints Day is released.  Since the first movie never made it to theaters (they wore Navy peacoats and it was due to release right after the Columbine tragedy), the sequel was only a partial release.  We did not get to see it in the theaters (I. Hang. My. Head. And. Cry.).

However, both Ms. J and I are Facebook "friends" (so to speak) with Troy Duffy.  It's March 2010 and I get a call from her.

MS. J: So you're going, right? (you lucky bitch)
ME:  To what?
MS. J:  What do you think?  The Boondock Saints Party in Boston?  He's going to be there, you know.
ME:  Weeeeellll, Boston's a couple hours away...I'd have to get a babysitter...
ME:  Okay, fine.  I'll look into it.  I'll call Elle, and see if she wants to go too.
MS. J: (growling) You do that.

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Boondock Saints (whose action starts on St. Patrick's Day, in Boston) and  the DVD release of All Saints Day, they threw the party at the Paradise Club on Commenwealth Ave. in Boston.  In attendance were the bands whose songs were featured on the soundtrack, Troy Duffy, Bob Marley (Det. Greenly), Daniel DeSanto (Ottilio Panza), David Della Rocco (who pretty much plays himself)...and...(deep breath)...Norman Reedus.  Sean Patrick Flanery was not there (the one thing keeping Ms. J from having a complete meltdown over her inability to attend). 

But Murphy was going to be there.  It took Ms. J delicately making that point for me to digest it.

Now I am well aware that Murphy is not real.  He's a fictional character and it's actually a fellow named Norman Reedus that I could possibly meet.  However, I also know (astrology geek that I am) that Reedus is a Capricorn...and I love Capricorns.  A lot.  While this has no real meaning for most of my life, it's nice to know that, when I meet the man, I'll be a little star struck, but I'll like him just fine (none of that, "aw man, he's actually an asshole" business).  I let myself get invested in going.

To fast forward:  Elle is HELL YEAH on board, Stella has Crikey, Johnny's with Kermit and Marshall agreed to come home early so I could stay out late.  We are ON. OUR. WAY.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Youth Soccer Lockout

Crikey is an avid soccer player. He and his peers are now far enough along in their training (development) that the games are less like those throbbing bands that marched across the Bugs Bunny cartoons, clumped together with instruments bouncing everywhere and more like... soccer games. Finally, attending his sporting events has transformed from maternal obligation (I love watching him play) to an experience I enjoy in its own right. I even like going to practices, though I rarely do, since Kermit really can't swing them (it ain't pretty).

However, I'm still ADD, still not a "HUA" sporty mom and therefore remembered to register the boy for the first practice of the spring season...2 hours before said practice. Scramble for keys. Put dinner on hold...crap, crap, crap...

To set the stage further, practice was held at the Middle School since the soccer fields are currently under 2 feet of snow and it's about 15 degrees out.

I called Johnny, our next door neighbor, and asked him if he could hang with Kermit for the 20 minutes it would take me to drop off Crikey, pay the fee and come home. Understanding gentleman that he is, he agreed.

Between the boys' winter breaks (which did NOT overlap), their independent cases of food poisoning, Mopping Days and errands - I was running ragged. When this worn down, my speech patterns become something like Yoda meets Hammy (Over the Hedge) meets a talkative Minion (Despicable Me).

It did not help that Crikey decided to go with sports pants and a t-shirt - no coat. Eh hem. 15 DEGREES.

"YOU. WITH THE ARMS. CLOTHES ON THEM. WEAR. NOW. IT'S COLDNESS. WEARING CLOTHES. NOW." This witty repartee was punctuated by my spastic movements: grab purse, grab phone, where's my iPod? etc., etc..

Now Johnny's mother, Elle, is one of my very best friends; she and I are also each others' favorite drinking buddies (a post of its own). Therefore, this young man has a fairly decent idea of my drinking habits (which could be worse). In this frenzy, the absurdity of how my behavior must look hit me. I stopped, started laughing, looked at Johnny and joked:

"I swear I've not been drinking." (never mind the laughter that's now bringing tears to my eyes) "Honestly." And then I walked into the door. Thud. Sigh. "REALLY."
When we moved in, Johnny was about 6 years old. I've seen him grow from a sweet little kid to a level headed teenager (apparently, they DO exist). He is also the King of Last Minute Babysitting. We would be lost without him.

Naturally, he chose this moment to go all Smart Ass Teenager. In reply to my "honestlys" and "reallys"...big grin, through chuckles:
"YEAH. OKAY." (snarkle, chuckle) Humph.
Unbelievably, we arrived at the Middle School in plenty of time.

A couple words about this train wreck of architectural schizophrenia, from the mouth of Dr. Egon Spengler:

"This building should be condemned. There's serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members. The wiring is substandard; it's completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone."

It's also a multi-leveled maze with at least 100 exits.
I once worked in this creepy old ramshackle as a tutor. Tutors were expected to park in the rear lot, far from the main entrance/parking lot. Without thinking, I parked in my usual spot. Door number 1? Locked. 2? Locked. 3? Locked. Aaaand so on.

15 degrees, and in my rush, I'm in jeans, a sweatshirt and Crocs. Irony and all.

The last door before the hall that connects the school to the YMCA is unlocked. With plenty of parking - but no matter. It's warm inside and I see my friends Stella and Traicy.

Like my first meeting with Elle, the description of my friendship with Stella is a post of its own. For now, suffice to say that she is a charming blend of quintessential Social Butterfly (in the very best sense of the word) and Sports Enthusiast (there's more, of course, but I want to do her justice...)

As for Traicy, she has the kind of positive energy about her that makes any room she enters a cheerful, happy place. I met her at one of Crikey's soccer tournaments and she was very amused by the bag of tricks I had brought to battle boredom. We hit it off so well that it didn't take long for me to forget the bag in the midst of the continual laughter. From obligation to enjoyment, to looking forward to soccer...? I have decided that I will only consent to assume the label of "Soccer Mom" if our sons are on the same team. Forever.

Now, I thought the adventure of getting there was good enough for a story, so I told it. I told it with the genuine (if naive) belief that, upon leaving, I'd go straight home, make dinner and be done for the night (Marshall said he'd do pick up).

Little did I know.

Conscious that I've left Johnny longer than I intended, and feeling very smug about the brainstorm of leaving via a door closer to my car, I take my leave, cleverly following the exit signs to a more logical choice.

Aha. Exit C6. I open the door, glance out. I can see my car - sweet! And just as I realize that I'm looking at my car through a 20 foot high, padlocked cyclone fence, I hear:


I'm locked out, ironically enough, on the fucking soccer field. With 2 feet of snow, 15 degrees, complete nightfall and no one to hear my screams.

I tried squeezing though the padlocked gate...which would have worked, if I weighed 80 lbs. Which I do not. While I have a bottom that only shows up in photo negatives, the upper half of my person is less Twiggy and more Dolly. I walked back to the door and called Stella. Since the practice was down in the bowels of the building, the lack of answer was no surprise. Where call signal fails, text often works. I texted both her and Traicy.

Still running late, I call my house to explain. The machine picked up.

ME: Hey Johnny, it's me. I'm sorry I'm running late, but I've locked myself outside of the school. I'm in the soccer field. I can see my car...
(at this point, the hilarity hits me and I start laughing)
ME: (choking out words) I can't fit through the padlock! I'll try climbing the fence, I guess! (gasp, wheeze)...

Behind me, the door opens. I see Traicy, eyes watering, bent at the waist, holding onto the knob to keep herself standing...and I lose it.

We are both laughing so hard, it took me a good 15 seconds to realize I was still on the phone.

When I pulled into the driveway, I saw Marshall's truck. Apparently, I called during the changing of the guard, and neither of them heard the message.

I walked in and reached for my apron. Pour a glass of wine; finish making dinner - a good plan...that never happened.

In his defense, my husband did hand me a half pound of penuche fudge before he said:

"You know, you worked at the Middle School, and I've never even been there. It would make more sense if you went to pick up Crikey. Do you mind?"

Three nights later, Elle came over for dinner. As I finished the story, she laughed and said, "so that's what he meant!"

"What "who" meant?"

"When Johnny came home the other night, he turned to me and said: 'Just so you know, Megan wasn't drinking.'"

POST SCRIPT: for the record, the neighborhood around the Middle School isn't quite a demilitarized zone - just not my first choice for a nighttime solitary hang out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Night I Learned to Scooby Doo Run

There are colleges that have concerts, celebrity guest speakers - that kind of thing. Mine was no different, really, though the speakers usually were of a serious nature...

Until my junior year, when we hosted the Gin Blossoms. (Hey, Jealoussssssyyyyyyy!)

The student body was excited to have such a recreational event. I mean, sure, who wouldn't be? (as this was back when the Gin Blossoms were just coming off of being huge)

Now, by "excited", I mean to say that when your mosh pit, yes mosh pit, is going so bloody nuts that the lead singer stops and remarks "wow, you guys are REALLY worked up down there" know it's getting a bit silly. And by "silly", I mean that it turned into a freaking brawl.

This is the part where I must introduce a couple of my (alias-ed) friends. Gravy, my then-boyfriend (named for the on-going friendly argument he and I had regarding how to label marinara whilst in Philadelphia...sauce vs. gravy), Bruiser and Archer.

Gravy actually only figures briefly in this story - as he had studying to do, and therefore was not in attendance.

Bruiser is one of my favorite people of all ever loving time. Suave, talented, good dresser, great dancer and while we weren't terribly close in school, I've had the pleasure of getting to know him better after school ended.

Archer is one of the coolest guys around. Smart, funny, kind...and very even tempered. He's the guy you can go to when the feces has hit the ventilation system, knowing that he'll be calm, collected and ready to fight that dragon with you. In the years I'd known him (and the crap I've seen him face), I'd never seen him lose his equilibrium.

Until that night.

So, as I reflect on this story, it strikes me that I can't remember where any of my girlfriends were...getting drinks? Somewhere else in the fray? Anyway...

Archer, Bruiser and I were in the back, listening to tunes, laughing a bit at the ridiculousness of body surfing at a Gin Blossoms concert...when said body surfer kicked Archer in the face.

On fucking purpose.

I pause here to point out something. Having no experience in it, I have no idea if this is true for women, but there are Three Special Looks That Cross a Man's Face an Instant Before the Big Damn Action. (obviously, they all do many more looks than that - but stick with me; these are special looks) In real life, in movies, watching the interaction as a third party...they are the same for each man. I mean, the damn same. For all of the variety of expression to be found over the faces of all of the men on the planet, and even just the ones you know - there are three expressions that cross cultures. I believe it has something to do with Darwinism....and these three:

LOOK #1 - I am about to kiss you
LOOK #2 - I am about to have sex with you
LOOK #3 - You have crossed the goddamned line and I am about to hit you. Hard.

Now, my experiences (of this kind) with men have been fairly limited - (and it's probably important to say right now, that I've never been struck by a boyfriend or my husband) so I've asked around. My circle of friends is fairly diverse (economic, social, national, ethnic backgrounds)...and this little instinct of mine is, apparently, spot on the money.

Remember the part about Archer being even tempered? Imagine my surprise when, on his face, I saw #3.

Oh, did I mention his size? Big guy. Big, strong guy.

I've been witness to lots of fist fights. I've seen lots of #3s over the years - but usually on boys and men who had the means to reign in #3 (or at least the presence of mind to remember that they don't want to go to jail). This was NOT one of those times.

Nor was there time for talking, redirecting...or anything other than "holy-crap-how-do-I-keep-him-from-committing-murder"?

Again, big guy. A good, 7-8 inches taller than I am. Now I'm not saying that my on the fly (oh let's emphasize the flying part) half-nelson wasn't effective...I do believe that having my body weight swinging from his neck like a 5"6 pendulum did slow him down. But not by much. It did, however, give him something else to do (once the blood lust died down a bit, he did work out that there was something awfully heavy latched around his right shoulder) and bought enough time for him to avoid a felony charge.

I call that a win.

And then someone from the crowd punched me. Right in the face.

I'd love to pretend that I'm even tempered...but I'm not. However, I do have a fairly good appreciation for the damage I could do if I ever let my temper and my fists have a playdate. I'm very good at staying out of physical altercations.

But I got punched. Right in the face. What. The. Fuck.

So I take off. At a run. After about 10 seconds I realize that I am getting absolutely nowhere. How could this be? Seriously, I'm no track star, but my legs are fucking strong and I'm still getting...nowhere?

I look down. Bruiser had my back. Or my hips, as it turned out. Personally, I love that he had the presence of mind not to bother holding down my arms, not to bother reasoning with me. He just found a way of keeping my happy ass planted, and went with that.

Frankly, once I realized I had just done my first official Scooby Doo Run, I laughed. Nothing really kills rage like cracking up, so I too was now in the safe zone.

Girlfriends came back. Enjoyed the rest of the concert. Walked back to our rooms.

I called Gravy to tell him about the night's adventures...I mean, really, as badly behaved as we all were (near brawl and all), there is something to be said about the adrenaline rush that comes with that kind of experience - good, bad or ugly, when it's over, you feel like you've had THE BEST TIME EVER.

ME: Oh, you shoulda' been was outta' control...lalalalla....fight....body surfer....had Archer in a half nelson....Bruiser had to keep me out of the fight.... (yeah, still swingin' high on that rush)
GRAVY: Wow, I'm so sorry. I should have been there. I should have been there to protect you...
ME: and then this one guy swung his...wait, what?
GRAVY: I'm your boyfriend. I should have been there to protect you.

Two things became clear to me, then.

1 - I'm pretty sure he missed the point of the story
2 - I'm pretty sure there's going to be no explaining it adequately

Ah well. It was a shame he couldn't get the same (if vicarious) enjoyment from the night that I had...but takes all types.

I showered...went to bed...woke up...started getting dressed...

And felt a deep wave of gratefulness that my relationship with Gravy was a fairly innocent one.

There were two bruises.

One on each hip.

Shaped like hands.

Those would've been even harder to explain.


I just got to see Bruiser a couple months ago. Just like when any old friends get together, the rehashing of well known stories is a tried and true favorite pastime.

He and I were in his kitchen, cleaning up, retelling this story to each other...laughing...and I made a offhand comment...

ME: and you know, the funniest part really was the bruising.
BRUISER: what?
ME: the bruising. You know, the next day?

(he slowly turns to me the head tilted "come again?" look)

ME (catching on): I never told you?
BRUISER (also catching on...imagine him saying in a low, slow "are you seriously about to say what I think you're about to say" tone): Nooooooooo.......
(more tilting...eyes a little squinty, now)
ME (counting out each bruise on each hip with my own digits to illustrate): Bruises, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10

(insert some hard core laughter riiiiight here)

Turns out, it took me about 15 years to get around to telling him the punchline.